Metro Chronicles: Short Novella Chapter 4

Chapter 4: The Findings
Oleg, known as “The Captain” was leading the group of four when Dmitri voluntarily joined the expedition. “New world order” medic team had found a small tunnel padlocked since time no one could fathom. Dmitri had called upon his best recon team to check out and clear the tunnel, if required. As per the Metro norms, it was foolish move to invite trouble without any specific gain as evaluated against the risk taken. But Dmitri had intuition that this would turn out good for them. Also there was an element of surprise on why such feeble “padlocked” door had been shut for such a long time without any intrusion. Metro was known for their heavy steel sluice gate designed doors barricading stations and as a result cutting them off from outside world. This “cut-off” was necessity as “Surface world” was bursting with fierce power to get poured into the Metro whenever opportunity presents itself. So this “exception” in the rule was hard to understand for Dmitri. And hence he donned his heavy protective army gear along with his trusted SVDK to join the recon team to get to the roots.
As the door opened, stale air prisoned inside the tunnel hissed out to shower the team. Already everyone had their gas masks on with respirator system working in full flow. According to Oleg, two sets of air filters were enough to check out the things. If the tunnel led to surface, more than two sets were never required as one would run out of ammunition to fight with monstrosities rather than running out of air supply. They entered the tunnel in a single file with Dmitri first and Oleg “The Captain” at last. It was strange battle formation employed for Metro expedition where leader had to be at last as “anomalies” found to fry the brain of any battle hardened soldier, once encountered. No particular effects in order and hence leader had chance to gather his wits for better command and control once he identified attack pattern to first poor victim. It didn’t mean Dmitri was on lower rung of rank ladder. He knew very well that if attack was such that he himself was compromised than there was minimal chance for his team’s survival.
With night vision on, claustrophobic darkness turned into grainy radiated green. On few occasions, Dmitri had stopped the party with silent army gesture of raised fist on encountering sharp green laser reflection of scurrying tunnel rodents’ eyes. It was not long tunnel but careful penetration had taken few precious hours out of their digitized wrist band watch. Dmitri had checked Geiger-counter on regular basis for any sudden radiation spike. At last Dmitri observed faint light filtering through what seemed to be tunnel exit boarded up with wooden planks. In sudden anticipation Dmitri moved forward quickly and tripped. He fell facedown into small pit covered in slime. For a while, Dmitri saw someone standing near the exit with his arms spread wide covering the blockage. A dark shadow in green, writhing in pain and agony, stitched to the wooden planks. It was bad omen warning against entering the world humankind choose to destroy long time back. Someone supported Dmitri to get up. Swiping out the slime from mask visor, Dmitri found vision also swept sideways giving view to dark green reality again.
“You, all right?” First echo thundered after their inception.
“Yaa, I’m fine.” Replied Dmitri.
As soon as Dmitri with help of two others, tore through blockage and door, they were greeted with blinding sunlight overpowering their Rod cells to imprint bright ghostly vision to linger on for a while even after quick shutting down of their night vision. They found themselves in a caved in basement of large destroyed building.
From the wreckage of shelves, Dmitri immediately realized that they were in one of the most famous and revered hotspot of the city; center point of all the learning and knowledge; temple of the intellectuals; The Great Library. Even after so many years passed, lot many books were in good condition to read. It was lost knowledge, humankind never cared for while fleeting away to Metros. Team spread out with keen eye to spot any abrupt movement while Dmitri rifled through few of the large volumes scattered on the floor.
During the military sweep of the Library, Dmitri surprisingly observed human footprints on dust covered floors intermingled with multi mutant-prints. It could not be STALKERs as they would have large armor boot prints. These were relatively small as someone had taken a stroll in regular floaters. Before he could alert the team about the findings, communication radio cackled with raspy voice of Oleg with clear intent of warning,” Attention team, it seems we are not the only ones occupying the Library right now.”
Without making any noise Dmitri swiftly swiped the surroundings through telescopic sight to provide backup to the team and identifying the danger. As a long range specialist he took the higher position on upper foyer looming over the large reception area where team had made their lookout. Suddenly there was blur to right corner of the hall, a faint voice erupted on communication channel of the radio and then Dmitri sensed something lobbed in the air almost to the height of foyer 50ft above the ground. In an instance, he captured the object in telescopic sight to fire and froze solid with the horror it represented. Dmitri could clearly identify severed head of Oleg with trailing crimson mist in its wake from the ground. With all the force he could muster, Dmitri screamed like madman,
“RUN…………They are already in the Library.”
The great hall was amalgamation of various sounds playing the orchestra where every sound was out of tune; continuous screaming wrapped in noise riddled radio voice, chatter of AK74 supported by echo of .45 caliber empty shells resounding to the tile floor, ominous growling punctuated by blood curdling tissue slashing and bone crunching. Within few minutes, show was over with no spectator left except Dmitri.
Dmitri ran towards adjacent corridor blindly once massacre started. He took refuge in one small study room covered with moss and lichen. Surprisingly “creatures” ran past the room without giving any attention. One stopped right at the threshold of room, looked towards Dmitri as if evaluating its prey for quality. Took one step in the direction of Dmitri and then stopped as if sensing some trap. It growled and flew back again with herd without entering the room.
After Dmitri got his senses back, he examined the room for his mysterious escape from death. There must be something with the room which had stopped the monster from entering the room. He found a rumpled but in good reading condition diary lying on the center study table. With curiosity sky high, Dmitri opened the diary. It was kind of a personal log. Dmitri would have not paid any attention if first page monolog had not been titled as ‘Day 1: After nuclear wipe out’.
To Be Continued…..

CHAPTER 3 : The Revelation

Metro Chronicles: Short Novella Chapter 3

Chapter 3: The Revelation

“You are the chosen one to restore balance to the world.”

With Dmitri’s proposal still playing in the head, Mia observed the underground lab facility which Dmitri called “The base”. With clinical peculiarities, large space in the middle of the room was full of various stretchers adorned with attachments she could not make out. In one corner she could see bubbling liquid simmering in various flasks via small burners underneath; set atop set of tables. Lots of them were interconnected through glass tubes, transferring contents or vapors to others. One side of wall was covered with shelf full of filled jars and flasks and test tubes safely held together in holders. Opposite wall was accompanied by large stout desk with stakes of large volume books above it. Not singed and not burned books were so rare to find for reading in the Metro that such collection could act as treasure trove for person like Mia. She could also see litter of papers with various diagrams, sketches, formulas, maps, designs and traps gracing the floor here and there.

As she approached to the middle of the room, she met with peculiar stench of formaldehyde. She could also make out now that stretchers were not totally unoccupied. Some of them had remains of “something” smeared with red blood. One of them was occupied with large body of upper world grotesque creature cut open with all its entrails spilling out. Few of them had outlined of human body enclosed in white coveralls with patches of red dotting the incision points. Entire scene was photographic capture of some mad scientist laboratory.

While Mia was busy examining the volumes on the desk, Dmitri went over to the other corner, removing the worn-out carpet over there to reveal small opening in the floor like manhole but this one was covered with small pressure pads with number embossed from 0 to 9. He swiftly pressed some of them and Mia heard a “Click” from the manhole cover. Dmitri removed the cover, reached deep inside the hole and fished out something covered in dirty cloth padding. He put the same into hands of Mia.

“What is this?” asked Mia.

“Humankind’s salvation.” Replied Dmitri.

Mia unwrapped the handover and found a small radio transmitter.

Reading the doubts on Mia’s face Dmitri started, “Before I explain what this is, I have to explain you why it is here.”

“Once I used to be the part of group which was known as “New World Order”. I know it’s clichéd but the aim of all the members of the group was to establish new world in Metro after nuclear war. Everything was in chaos. Rampant looting, thievery, rape and murder was norm once people realized that Metro was going to be their new playground after destruction of upper world. Objective of the group was to establish balanced way of living as we did in the real world. We were aiming for kind of a “Renaissance” which will restore the humankind’s faith in knowledge and wisdom again. First thing to do was to reduce death rate. Lot many of us acted as doctors and medics, searching and researching traumas and disease and injuries to cure them and also make them available swift medication. We help people design and built safe holdouts, better protection gear and also improved fighting mechanisms against mutants. “The Collective Subconscious” was also outcome of such research. In fact, that rule was actually identified and proposed by me. Even though we succeeded in reducing the death rate significantly, we faced entirely opposite challenge afterwards.”

Dmitri sat on the stool nearby, rifling through one of the large book unconsciously like reading a story to Mia,” For us still renaissance was nowhere to be seen. In fact, people multiplied with much higher rate because of lower death rate and they are getting to their natural “breeding” behavior with utmost contempt and carelessness for women. This is what still going on. You know that, right? It’s like upper world history repeating itself with only difference is that this world is small, very small as compared to what we had before. You don’t have natural resources like jungles and all to destroy but definitely resources are scarce which will be running out at some point. Once Society used up all the resources, it will collapse unto itself like a dying hollowed out star. To complete our objectives “New world order” needed to act fast. To think up something drastic and at the same time effective. We were out of our wits until….”

“Do you believe in Fate, Mia?” Dmitri asked abruptly in between.

“NO. I don’t think there is something like fate as if it exits it shouldn’t allow a person to suffer in such hell.” Mia replied.

Dmitri smiled faintly and continued,” But my special recon and rescue team members were strongly believed that that was fateful day when we went for rescue of survivors of collapsed tunnel at one of the most secluded and frightful corner of the Metro. During the search, we found small tunnel opening like a secret door padlocked securely. It was small and wide enough for single person. Definitely tunnel was meant to escape into Metro during the time of war and someone had padlocked it after arriving at Metro to stop others. We were much interested what was there on the other side. We were always prepared for such reconnaissance missions, as you can see.” With that he pointed out in one corner where Mia could see top tier high radiation protection recon suit with armor plating along with high caliber SVDK.” What we found other side was way more than we asked for.”

To Be Continued…..

CHAPTER 2: The Proposal

Metro Chronicles: Short Novella – Chapter 2

CHAPTER 2: The Proposal 

“You are the chosen one to restore balance to the world.”

Blurted out Dmitri with grim face to back up the seriousness behind the proposal.

“But How!!!! This seems highly unlikely…..”Mia barely managed to reply.

“You don’t have to worry about particulars. I have thought it out everything. I already worked on my plan since last few years. Only thing I need from you is your cooperation to carry out the execution with perfection. “Interjected Dmitri without allowing Mia to raise any more concerns.

Mia realized during frequent ventures to various Metro stations that somehow Dmitri was attracted towards her; not the usual cruel interest like other men but keen interest in something else which Mia skilled to perfection by now. She was extremely good at avoiding attention which was rare considering Mia was young girl and also beautiful one by any standards considering the low-life of Metro women. Mia also got accustomed to Dmitri, observing him from the corner of her eyes whenever opportunities present themselves during their excursions with other group of people.

Dmitri was soft-spoken person who also not liked to converse with others; same as Mia. And hence they got together easily. Once she was creating catapult which can be armed with rotating wheel mechanism of the motor sledge and throw Molotov through feeder belt without need of two persons to man the back side observation post for mutant attacks while traveling through tunnels; Damitri had helped her out with exact dimensions to carve for maximum torque. He also made her learn formulas to carry out calculations. Mia was impressed and then it became norm to learn something each time they conversed. Damitri was considered by many as born genius. He was immensely knowledgeable and experienced, apparent through greying hair and taut chiseled face.

On the other hand, others considered Damitri a freak. Sometimes he could be seen spending months on single metro station, doing what could be described by him as “Research” and sometimes roaming around various metros. He could don the role of any particular as and when required; some day he would be mechanic, someday medic, someday biologist, someday statistician, someday advisor, someday researcher and many more and Mia knew that whatever role he was playing, he practiced excellence in everything. People also believed that he had pact with “The Dark” during so-called research expeditions where his entire party was diminished over black corner of the tunnel nearby surface except him. His brain “short-circuited” in result. But Mia knew that metro harshness has reduced the sharpness of human mind to concentrate on survival more than to spend grey matter to betterment of humankind or for just sake of knowledge like Dmitri.

Once spending time together on one of the trade stations for further journey, Dmitri asked Mia to join him on his research expedition, although not giving away what it could be. Mia was looking for such opportunity as she was also keen to explore the world she believed barely knew. She tagged along with Dmitri wherever he went, experiencing the Metro universe first-hand, before that she always had to rely on spoken words. For Mia, it was strange and incomprehensible. Even though she saw interconnected Metro network map, she could not think of anything beyond that map boundary. She heard about “outside world” but didn’t have a slightest idea of the size and scale of that world as compared to her Metro-world. She couldn’t comprehend why people are so hell-bent on killing out of fear and at the same time mass producing like sewer rats.

“These pockets of Metro stations are nothing but like countries on themselves with their own governing bodies and laws, you know!!!” Once Dmitri explained to Mia while passing through border guard posts through one of the main stations.

“But who will control them.” asked Mia.

“That’s the point. No one. Those lucky ones or should I say unlucky ones who survived nuclear blast due to timely entry to Metros started this Metro civilization. There was no central authority and no one was in condition to think of that. And what do you think they start concerning about once they settled down?”

“Food!! Home!! Clothes!! ….No idea…..”

“Guns. Can you believe that? Ammunition was the first mass produced thing again after humankind’s exile to this god-forbidden place. I can understand the need for protection against outer forces and mutants, but once you put AK74 to someone’s hand and sooner or later they get twitchy fingers.” Dmitri answered with disdain.

“To add fuel to the fire, once people got their bearings and control over metros they started grouping up. Not for supporting each other but based on similar political propagandas and interests. Even after the end of world, lust for power never vanquished. Now you also have borders in Metro also.” Continued Dmitri.

“But this situation is not going to last. I have a thought or rather idea. And you need to help me out with that.” Said Dmitri leading Mia to small opening in the wall of Metro station.

“Help!! With what?”

“With this…..”

Dmitri opened small creaky door to some kind of large underground opening. Mia was not sure what it could be used for in pre-war era. Damitri flicked the lights on and entire room was bathed with warm yellow glow to highlight each object with feverish sharpness. Mia gasped with surprise. This was not she expected.

To Be Continued…..

Chapter 1: The Extinction